Many business leaders view HR as a bolt on, a compliance function with a “computer says no” attitude. Let’s step back for a moment, what does your business success rely on? Your people, right?
Getting the right people doing the best job in the most effective way - that’s what HR is about. I suspect as a business leader that’s what you’re about too.
The problem with people is they are complex. We can buy new software or the latest gadget - learning how to use it and get the best out of it. If only people were that simple.
1. Keep the People in Focus
You’re busy running the company. You know where you’re heading and you’ve set your objectives. You just need your people to do the job.
You need someone else thinking about the details. Getting all your plans achieved requires your people to be motivated. You need a culture that supports people to achieve, which means if you’ve got someone damaging that, you need someone whose job it is to sort it.
This is what HR does. HR keeps thinking about your people. When you know what the business needs to achieve HR should be focused on what needs to be done to support people to achieve it.
A key aspect of this is the focus on your vision and mission. This should be at the core of everything you do. Your people should know what it is and be passionate about delivering it. This passion will shine though in their work. HR will put this at their core. HR will ensure people are reminded of the vision and mission, keeping your culture on track.
2. Increase Productivity
Why do you need to worry about what people are thinking, whether they are motivated or aligned with your vision and mission? It’s simple - productivity.
You need your team to be productive - wages are probably your highest cost, you need a return on that investment. You can’t just turn up the speed on people.
You’ve probably heard the buzzword - employee engagement. Put simply it’s about getting the conditions right so your people give their best. People who are engaged are happy at work, satisfied their well-being is taken care of, thus motivated and performing at their best. The role of HR is to make this happen. There is a lot to think about and it doesn’t take much to tip the balance in the wrong direction.
3. Reduce Absence
Unplanned absence like sickness is disruptive. It will happen. There is no getting away from people getting sick but you want to keep it to a minimum.
Getting your culture and employee engagement right will help to reduce absence. When people have a sense of community and achievement at work they want to be there. In fact, the opposite problem can occur when people turn up to work when they really aren’t well enough to be there. Your HR person should have this as one of their priorities.
As well as getting the culture and employee engagement right, managing absence is crucial - keeping the right documentation and speaking to people who have been off sick. Conversations may well be best placed with the line manager but it’s HR who are making it all happen.
It’s easy whilst you’re busy running your business to forget about the skills individuals have. You were wowed during the interview. This person had additional strings to their bow, but then they started, settled into the day job and those possibilities are forgotten. It’s HR’s role to track those, keep in mind the skill of all your people and ensure you have the skills you need in the business.
HR can plan for your future. If they know where the business is growing they can ensure your people have the right skills. They will ensure managers have the skills they need to manage in the right way for your business. This is particularly important for new managers.
If you’re growing your business then you’re going to be recruiting. Recruiting is no longer sticking an ad in the paper and seeing who comes forward.
You need to position your company as an employer of choice. You want the best people in the industry seeing you as the person they want to work for. You want to know that when you have a vacancy you will fill it and quickly. You also need a process that efficiently gets that person started and inducted - they need to feel part of the team, understand your culture, vision and mission and be equipped to the job.
When you’re recruiting, by definition, you’re busy. You recruit because you have work for someone to do. It’s easy to get recruitment wrong, to miss out on a great candidate or make a lasting bad impression when they start.
HR can keep the focus on getting this right so you don’t have to. HR can be making sure you’re an employer of choice and support you to promote this (I say support because it’s your company and people want to work for you).
6. Keep you out of an Employment Tribunal
Whilst HR are helping you grow your business, keeping the focus on the people so you get the best out of your teams, they’re also watching your back. HR will ensure you comply with employment law.
HR will ensure people have contracts that not only meet legal requirements but also provide what your business needs. They’ll keep your Employee Handbook up to date so everyone knows the rules and what is expected of them. These don’t need to be lengthy draconian policies but a few key rules just keeps things ticking over nicely and keep you legally compliant.
Legal compliance not only keeps you out of employment tribunals but it makes people feel safe at work. It’s the foundation upon which culture, employee engagement and motivation is built.
7. Increasing Diversity
Companies with more diverse leadership and teams are more profitable. Employees are more engaged, there is more creative problem solving, you have a better reputation as an employer and therefore have better hiring choices. HR will keep focusing on the people, ensuring you don’t do anything to damage the diversity of your business and ensure you attract diverse people.
HR will Grow your Business
You won’t have missed that each of the 7 ways HR will grow your business is linked. You need all of them to succeed. The good news is it’s like a snowball, once you start gathering the good practices you’ll just keep collecting them.
A great leader can do all this. Having HR on board will mean you can focus on running the business, while HR can keep thinking about the people. When it comes to people there is a lot to think about. Marrying the business needs, people’s needs and complying with the law can at times be complex. Get it right and your business will grow. Get it wrong and the cost of tribunals, staff turnover, sickness absence and poor performance may become unviable.
Article last updated: 22 July 2020
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